Put plainly; the glycemic index measures the rise in blood sugar after eating foods high in carbohydrates. Like most nutrition topics the glycemic index has people split over its propriety and practicality. I believe that knowledge is power and hopefully, by the end of this article, you know enough about the glycemic index to decide for yourself.
During my nutrition consultations, I always tell my clients to reach for foods low on the glycemic index as opposed to high. To help clients remember this I have them visualize the processed cereals filled with sugar that we keep high on top of the refrigerator. Then I have them visualize the whole grains like rolled oats and Farro that grow low on the ground. This process usually cements how to determine where most foods fall on the glycemic index but not all. For certain foods, like fruit, their place on the glycemic index isn’t clear. In general, most fruits rank fairly low on the GI, this excludes pineapple and melons, but there are factors that affect how high fruit falls on the index. For example, Ripeness moves fruit higher up the GI. This does not mean you should avoid eating fruit, just aim for 2-3 servings a day. Additionally, you can use the high GI fruits like melon and pineapple to your benefit. HAving these fruits for breakfast is a quick and healthy way to raise your low glucose levels after fasting all night during sleep. Just don’t overdo it. Additionally, when eating high GI foods you can pair them with low GI foods to balance the effect. For example, topping your oatmeal with pineapple is a delicious way to pair the low with the high. As always there are ways to make room for the things you love in moderation.
Before you go and make decisions based on the GI there are a few other things you should consider. Earlier I mentioned processed foods, but what I failed to mention was the different degrees of food processing and how it affects the GI. Oatmeal is a great example because on its own 100% whole rolled oats fall low on the GI however after mild processing which involves cutting the oats into a finer texture producing quick oats moves it higher on the GI. As you can see even slight processing, and this includes flash freezing, can affect a foods placement on the GI. Therefore it’s important to eat unprocessed foods as much as possible and whenever you can opt for fresh over frozen. This may result in a few more trips to the grocery store but when you balance that with improved energy levels the choice isn’t a difficult one.
To Your Continued Success,